This paper focuses on the "disappointing" nature of the last few sentences of De Anima II 12, where it is Aristotle's intention to specify what smell is apart from the immaterial reception of a scent by the nose. It has been argued that the concluding remarks of the chapter scarcely advance our understanding of sensible knowledge, in so far as they restrict themselves to repeating what is already known: that smelling is "something else" in addition to the immaterial reception of a scent. In order to save Aristotle from triviality, this paper explores the main issues surrounding the thesis of the "reception of sensible forms without matter" (424a18), considering in particular the literal alteration of sense-organs that is supposed to underlie every single episode of perceptive awareness. The paper reaches a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: concentration on literalist physiology tends to reinforce "spiritualism", which keeps coming back in the guise of an appeal to basic sensitive powers (99b35) which inanimate bodies lack.
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